Gadgets beating out books

The majority of young children in the UAE watch television every day - compared to just 16 per cent reading books. 

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Children in the UAE are technology savvy but could never be termed bookish, according to a survey of media use among pre-teens.

Traditionalists are likely to be dismayed by news that children in the Emirates are more likely to use the internet or mobile phones than to read books.

But the use of digital media among children spells an opportunity for advertisers, according to the media agency Carat, which carried out the survey.

Of 200 children aged between 4 and 9 involved in the survey, 90 per cent said they watched television every day, while 65 per cent used the internet at least once a week.

But just 16 per cent read a book every day, according to the Carat survey.

Despite the findings, a representative of the company insisted that digital platforms were being used as a tool for learning.

"Kids are becoming more and more techno-savvy in the way they learn," said Roxane Negrillo, the group media director at Carat. "Teachers are increasingly integrating the internet and edutainment into the curriculums."

For advertisers, TV remains the "primary medium in targeting kids", said Ms Negrillo. "We need to be strategic in the way we plan for TV to make sure that the brand is communicating the right - and responsible - message to the kids at the right time."

Ms Negrillo said the research illustrated "new trends" for use by advertisers.

"Online is very crucial to have as kids are digital natives now," she said.

The survey was based on interviews with 203 children in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah between July 13 and August 10.

Fifty-one per cent of Arab children in the survey said they played console-based video games daily, compared with 25 per cent of western and Asian children in the UAE.

Arab children in the Emirates were also far more likely to use mobile phones daily.

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